Microsoft has created a tool to find pedophiles in online chats

Ruben Fields
January 12, 2020

Through collaboration with global partners and industry we are leading a worldwide effort to keep children safe from abuse. Companies implementing the technique can set a score (for example, 8 out of 10) above which any flagged conversations are sent to a human moderator to review.

At Microsoft, we embrace a multi-stakeholder model to combatting online child exploitation that includes survivors and their advocates, government, tech companies, and civil society working together. Project Artemis builds on this, by looking for patterns of keywords and phrases that are commonly associated with grooming- including sexual interactions and even manipulation tactics. It would also provide child protection experts with more information on how pedophiles operate online. Companies in the industry reported 45 million online images of child sexual abuse in 2018, a record high, the New York Times reported in September.

Project Artemis builds off of a Microsoft patent and uses historical chat data to assign probability ratings to conversations.

Project Artemis is an automated system, developed by Microsoft, which can sniff out sexual predators that lurk in various online chat rooms- including those of video games.

Microsoft developed the tool in collaboration with The Meet Group, Roblox, Kik, and Thorn.

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Work on developing the technology - known as Project Artemis - began at a "hackathon" co-hosted by the Home Office and Microsoft in November and will now be rolled out to companies for free.

Dr. Hany Farid, the academic behind Microsoft's PhotoDNA tool, led development of Project Artemis.

Licensing and adoption of the technique will be handled by Thorn, a charity that focuses on harnessing the power of technology to protect children online.

The tool will not only detect those who are a threat to children, but also those who are actively exploiting children.

Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, said: "Predators must get the message loud and clear, that there is no safe space to groom children for abuse". The fight for child safety online continues.

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